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Checking Travellers’ Documents Mandatory for Airlines

In case you were worried about your travel documents, fret not. If you are flying, you should be aware that airlines are supposed to check your documents before you board your flight. If they fail to do this and your documents are incorrect, the airlines will have to fly you back home at their own expense.


The airlines which overlook incorrect documentation of their travellers need to pay a fine as well. They can be up to a $3,500 per passenger, which definitely isn’t a sum that the airlines are gladly cashing out. Having in mind also that travellers like that are taking the seats of potential new customers who would pay the full price is also something that the airlines are taking into account.


But, airlines are not FBI and they are not responsible for identifying criminal activity. “[…] let me be clear in saying that we do not expect them (the airlines) to be experts in identifying fraudulent documents,” said Kenneth Sava, Director of the Customs and Border Protection’s Trusted Traveler Programs for Airlines International’s website. “So, if a passenger appears to have valid documents but they turn out to be counterfeit or obtained by fraud, there would generally not be a penalty against the carrier.”


Most issues that airlines are dealing with are passengers without a visa or with an invalid visa. Often passengers’ passports are not valid for long enough since every country has different rules about passports’ validity. Some can be valid on the arrival day, others need to be valid for the next six months, and so on. Travellers are also returned to their home countries if they fail to obtain a return or onward ticket.


However, some airlines are taking measures to prevent these problems. For example, Qatar Airways have a so-called “Indemnity Form: Missing or Insufficient Travel Documents”.

Qatar Airways Indemnity Form

In this way, airlines are protecting themselves from additional costs. These forms weren’t used for travellers affected by the new US travel restrictions as Qatar Airways’ explained on Twitter.

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